When Natural Isn’t “Normal”

I’ve realized more and more recently just how far our cultural views of “normal” behavior have become skewed from what is natural.  Truthfully, if I had posted this sort of information a hundred years ago, everyone would have looked at me funny for stating the obvious.  Nowadays, some of the natural practices I’ve implemented in my life become topics of hot debate and I feel as if I’ve had to “come out of the closet” as a hippie.  Unfortunately, that is a loaded word that harbors stereotypes of people who don’t shower, or wear weird clothing, or the worst, believe that anyone who lives differently is horrible and wrong.

In all actuality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  I make changes to my own life because I believe they are right for me.  I do get excited, and I do want to tell people about them, but it is never in a tone of condescension or judgement.  Many times people will become defensive, and try to explain their decisions, or even offensive, doling out all the reasons I’m wrong, but when it comes down to it, I just want to share how my life has been changed.

My most important first change was getting rid of television.  I didn’t think it would make that large a difference, but it did!  I had time now—time to read, time to talk, time to think.  Then my mind completely cleared.  I started to see how useless and flimsy all the stuff that looked so great on TV actually was.  Instead of knowing more about fictional people’s relationships than my own, I started to have actual relationships and took the time to develop them.

Then came simplicity, which at the time knocked me out of my chair; I had never known that life could be like that: simple and slow.  And it led to everything: a cleaner home, a better relationship with my husband, more time, more money.

Then I realized I could do more.  I could use simplicity to take care of my body and my mind in a way that I didn’t think possible.  Simplifying my food led me to whole foods. I want to emphasize that my understanding of whole foods is not necessarily expensive, organic foods sold exclusively at farmers’ markets—it is instead foods at their basic level: no additives or mixtures, simple whole fruits, vegetables, meat, grains, spices, etc.  Your body craves natural foods.  When I started implementing these diet changes, my body felt better because I was giving it what it needed, not what my television told me it needed.

I went even further to realize that I could clean differently.  I didn’t need 30 different cleaners for every surface of my home; soap and water worked just as well.  I learned about disposability and started using handkerchiefs and hand towels instead of tissues and paper towels.  I’ve even gone so far as to stop using toxic shampoo (yes, shampoo is toxic) and implemented a baking soda/apple cider vinegar system to clean my hair.

There is still a lot for me to learn.  Because my husband and I are trying to start our family, I’ve been researching a lot about natural childbirth and green parenting practices like cloth diapering, attachment parenting, and co-sleeping (and homeschooling for the distant, distant future).  If any of my readers have practical advice or tips about this, I would love to hear it.

I mostly just want to lend encouragement to people who are breaking out of what is “normal” to get back to what is natural.  It is difficult and comes with a lot of criticism, but it is worth it!  Even if you’re not ready to jump in with both feet, just make one change (eg watch less television or eat more whole foods) and you’ll see how it impacts your life for the better.


8 thoughts on “When Natural Isn’t “Normal”

  1. Oh my goodness. Can we please get together? I feel like we could talk about this stuff for hours on end!
    I’ve really been wanting to get rid of the Internet for months now, especially since I’ve noticed how little I read books since getting it. It’s hard though because both Ryan and I have grown dependent on it.
    Also, my sister does the baking soda/vinegar thing and LOVES it. I haven’t quite come around to it, but I think it’s great you two do it.
    It doesn’t so much bother menthat natural isn’t normal as much as it bothers me that natural isn’t even presented as an option anymore. No one really realizes they have a choice, and no one really researches their decisions.

    And as for the natural parenting stuff… Seriously. You’re reading my mind. I’m on the path to a natural childbirth, seriously considering cloth diapering, reading a book about attachment parenting, and trying to bring the husband around to the idea of cosleeping.

    This comment is ridiculously long.

  2. I really love your blogs. The only thing I disagree with is cloth diapers. And the only reason I disagree with it, is because I’ve used them. Case in point, if you are really set on using cloth diapers, use them on yourself for a week or so at a time during the month…you know what I’m saying. See how it goes. If you still really really love them, enough said. Please don’t think I am putting down your idea in any way. Not at all. I support you 100 %! Love you. oh, and Happy Birthday! MOM

  3. Hey,

    loved these ideas! I definitely love implementing “natural” things in my life as well. I’ll have to let you know about cloth diapers, we’re starting those in the next week or so since our newborn is just about big enough. I love real food too!

  4. I have a FANTASTIC pattern for cloth diapers if you are really interested (I don’t use them myself, but have them in my 72 hour kits)

    I love your comment about starting small. It is interesting how with parenting especially, people seem to expect you to do a whole TYPE of parenting instead of picking the best ideas that work for your family and using them no matter where they come from, or how other people will think of you.

  5. We cloth diaper over here and I love it! When Robbie wears disposables he always tugging on them, like they irritate his skin. He seems like he is much more comfortable in his cloth diapers. My husband made a diaper spray that attaches to the toilet. I can send you a link if you want one for your cloth diapers when the time comes.

    As for making babies, I highly suggest reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It teaches women all the things we wish we knew about our fertility. A lot of women who struggled to get pregnant achieved pregnancy through this book without needing doctors of drugs. The women who do need the docs and drugs are able to be much more active in their diagnoses and avoid a lot of expensive test they don’t need.
    It also allows you to prevent pregnancy in between babies without all the hormones and side effects of other birth control.

    And because it was already mentioned they do make reusable cloth pads for your time of the month. But I prefer a reusable cup, like the diva cup. Not because there is anything wrong with the cloth pads, but because I have never like pads in any shape of form. Not only are the cups better for the environment but they are a LOT healthier for you!

  6. You do not even know how in love with baking soda/vinegar I am. You can do anything with it. I am super tempted to try your “shampoo” but I need to know what you do exactly.

    We are heading for cloth diapers as well, but more research is needed. We will definitely be putting a sprayer on the toilet.

    I am actually on board with everything in this post. I wish I had the chance to talk to you more than once or twice. I guess we can chat it up at this summer’s reunion!

  7. after seeing several of your comments on small notebook, i decided to check out your blog. i’ve been taking steps to being more natural and simple, too [whole foods, getting rid of clutter, more foods, etc.] i have two kids already and plan to add to the family in a couple years. i plan to go drug-free, which is different than my other deliveries. i like to read http://hypnobabies.wordpress.com/ for inspiration and strength. i find the stories to be empowering.

    overall, the most important thing to remember is that you decide what is right for you and your family. what’s right and best for others isn’t necessarily right and best for you. so if you find cloth diapers work for you, awesome. if they don’t, don’t feel guilty. if you home school and you hate it, don’t feel sad about participating in the current “conventional” methods.

    one step at a time and good luck!

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